JTA — A video of a crowd of extremist Jewish Israelis beating a man presumed to be an Arab in a Tel Aviv suburb on Wednesday night was broadcast live on Israeli TV as the country erupted in violence between Arabs and Jews.
The incident in the coastal city of Bat Yam, caught by a camera operator for Israeli Channel 11, comes amid the deadly rocket fire between Israel and Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza.
The footage shows the Jewish Israelis surrounding the man and beating him. Later he is seen lying on the ground wearing a motorcycle helmet being kicked and hit before the camera pans away.
“We’re watching a ‘lynching’ [a word used in Hebrew to refer to a vicious assault] in real time,” reporter Daniel Elazar says in Hebrew off-camera. “There are no police here.”
“I don’t think we need to be showing this,” the TV anchor says, as the camera pulls away.
Police and emergency services reportedly did not arrive on the scene until 15 minutes later, while the victim lay motionless on his back in the middle of the street.
Those in the crowd justified the attack by saying the man was an Arab who had tried to ram the far-right nationalists, but the footage shows a motorist trying to avoid Jewish extremists who were marching along Bat Yam promenade.
The victim “is seriously injured but stable,” Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital said in a statement, without revealing his identity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the public that such incidents were “intolerable.” “I don’t care if your blood is boiling. So it’s boiling. It’s irrelevant. You can’t take the law into your own hands,” he said. “You can’t come to an Arab civilian and try to assault him, just as we can’t see Arab citizens do so to Jewish citizens. This will not stand.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid decried the “total loss of control.” And Yamina chief Naftali Bennett called the scenes in Bat Yam “un-Jewish, immoral, inhuman.”
Issawi Frej, an Arab deputy from the left-wing Meretz party, said the images were a sign that the country was heading towards “civil war”.
The attack happened amid a night of unrest across Israel as Hamas fired salvos of rockets at Israel and Israel bombed Gaza. It appears to be the worst inter-ethnic violence within Israel since the onset of the second intifada, a violent Palestinian uprising, more than 20 years ago.
Jewish protesters in Bat Yam, as well as the northern cities of Tiberias and Acre, marched through the streets, and footage circulating on social media captured crowds of men in multiple locations chanting “Death to Arabs” and vandalizing Arab-owned businesses.
A Jewish man in Acre was beaten and an Arab man in the central Israeli city of Lod was shot.
One night earlier, Arab protesters in several cities took to the streets, with some starting fires. In Lod, the protesters burnt synagogues, shops and cars, and Netanyahu declared a state of emergency.
The unrest, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, follows weeks of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in eastern Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of police were injured in the fighting, which twice saw Israeli police raid the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits on the Temple Mount, the holiest place for Jews as the site of the biblical temples, and the site of the third holiest shrine in Islam.
Twice in recent weeks, crowds of far-right Jews have marched on Jerusalem’s Old City, where they clashed with Palestinian crowds. The first Jewish extremist march came after a string of Palestinian attacks on visibly Orthodox Jews.
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.